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County juvenile department reports increase in referrals

As the world rebounds from three years of COVID-19, the number of cases referred to the Linn County Juvenile Department is rising, Director Torri Lynn told the Linn County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, March 28.

Commissioners Will Tucker and Sherrie Sprenger were present in the boardroom, while Commissioner Roger Nyquist participated by telephone.

Lynn relayed the following statistics for February: Linn County held 21 young people for 279 days, with an average 13-day stay; six Benton County youth were held for 52; and five Lincoln County youth were held for 87. He also said that youth are exhibiting more serious behavior issues and spending more time at the facility.

The Juvenile Department received 26 referrals that month, with 189 youth in the probation unit. Of those, 35 are assessed as high-risk. Lynn counted 67 in the community programs unit, adding that the intervention specialist was working with 85 – 82 of whom have not been involved with law enforcement. Three young people completed 85 hours of service projects with the Tier 1 work crew, while 20 in Tier 2 totaled almost 472 hours.

Sprenger, a former sheriff’s deputy, asked Lynn if the county had adequate services as the numbers increased. She pointed to a county program offering heavy equipment training at the Detention Center and at the Knife River Training Center.

Lynn replied that the county can meet those needs, but added that mental health services were increasingly important. He said that services will increase as the need arises.

In other business, the commissioners:

— Approved hiring a licensed practical nurse at Juvenile Detention. The position has traditionally been held by an RN-level nurse.

— Approved reducing the redemption period for an abandoned property at 685 West B. St., Lebanon (outside the city limits). The county has attempted numerous times to notify the owners without success. Squatters have reportedly moved onto the property, where there have been several fires, resulting in neighborhood safety concerns. The owners have not paid taxes since 2016. Without accelerating the redemption period, the county could not mitigate the site until fall or winter.

The county will take deed to the property in 30 days.

♦ Approved purchasing an easement along Goldfish Farm Road for the Cox Creek Bridge replacement project for $13,249 from Patricia A. Stafford Parks.

♦ Approved the purchase of liquified asphalt emulsion from Western Emulsions Inc. for the 2023 chip seal projects.

♦ Approved a zoning map amendment for Laura Lynn White Revocable Trust on a 60.01-acre property, changing from exclusive farm use to farm/forest.

♦ Approved increasing the Veterans Suicide Prevention Grant by $4,000 for the Veterans Department; approved adding $29,000 to the Law Library Fund for the Eviction Prevention Grant; approved moving $40,000 of the Operating Contingency fund to Other Contracted Services within Environmental Health.

– Alex Paul, Linn County Communications Officer